It was truly an historic moment when the first humans landed on the moon 50 years ago — at 3:17 p.m. Sunday, July 20, 1969 (CT).
The world watched their TV screens spellbound as Astronaut Neil Armstrong set foot on the soft granular moon surface at 9:56 p.m., followed 20 minutes later by Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin.
Armstrong’s first words after hoping down from the ladder of the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) to the moon’s surface were, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”
All assignments were completed, including the planting of the American flag, the setting up of scientific instruments and the collecting of rocks for study, among a myriad of other duties.
Armstrong and Aldrin lifted off from the moon in the LEM — dubbed “Eagle” — and linked successfully with the Apollo XI command module which had been circling the moon under the guidance of Astronaut Michael Collins during the pair’s lunar exploration.
The three astronauts returned safely to earth on Thursday, July 24, 1969 where they were hailed as heroes for their amazing accomplishment.